5 injured in landslides along Bukidnon-Davao highway

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/17 July) —  Five persons were injured in a series of landslides in the villages of Maloos, Barangay Kahusayan, Kitaotao town and  Manalong,  Kipolot in Quezon town that started at 8 p.m. Saturday,  rendering portions of the Bukidnon-Davao highway impassable for at least 24 hours.

Engr. Leonardo Paulican, DPWH district engineer, told MindaNews that as of Sunday night, light vehicles could already pass one lane of the road section that was closed Saturday night in Maloos village.

But he said workers continued to clear the road to allow buses and other heavy vehicles to pass. He said a prime mover, which had difficulty passing Saturday night had blocked the way.

Paulican said the side of the mountain planted to corn collapsed in Maloos and Minalong, covering portions of the highway with three to five meter-deep soil. In Kitaotao town, one landslide site covered 80 meters of the highway, another landslide covered 100 meters.

In Quezon town, Noli Mulato, an inspector of the Rural Transit of Mindanao, Inc. (RTMI), told MindaNews that the landslide affected a 30-meter stretch of the highway, covering the highway with 5-meter deep soil.

Altogether, the impassable areas from Maloos to Minalong fell within a seven kilometer-stretch.

Paulican said witnesses in the area attributed the landslide to a heavy downpour brought about by what they believe to be a cyclone.

The RTMI suspended its  Cagayan de Oro to Davao City trips after the landslide rendered the highway impassable Saturday night,  Lolito Colon, an RTMI dispatcher at the Malaybalay City Integrated Bus Terminal, told MindaNews at 5p.m. Sunday.

Jocelyn Daroy, head of the Philippine National Red Cross Bukidnon chapter, told MindaNews Sunday afternoon that the injured residents were from Maloos village where two houses were swept away. Daroy said they counted seven landslides as of Sunday morning, two of them major.

Daroy identified two of the victims as Tomas Pancasala and his wife Honoria, owners of one of the two houses. The other injured persons were the couple’s two nephews and a grandchild. Their names were not immediately made available.

Kitaotao mayor Rudito Rafisura told MindaNews by telephone that  the victims were  brought to the Bukidnon Provincial Hospital in nearby Kibawe town. He said Mrs. Pancasala sustained the most serious injury but could not provide details.

Drivers of RTMI buses bound for Davao City Sunday traveled shorter routes as RTMI suspended trips to Davao. Buses from here traveled only up to Maramag, the town before Quezon.

A driver told MindaNews at the terminal here that passengers of at least two RTMI buses were stranded in the site overnight. The lack of mobile phone signal in the area made it even more difficult, he added.

He said the passengers walked the stretch by lunch time Sunday.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)